A 21-year old Israeli, Mia Schem, has just been released from captivity after a harrowing six weeks as a hostage.
Her aunt has revealed that during captivity she was “operated on in Gaza by a veterinarian.”
The horrifying surgery, performed by the animal vet, took place after she sustained a serious injury to her hand after Hamas attacked her prior to kidnapping her from the Nova Music Festival on Oct 7th.
After the surgery on her hand she was forced to appear in a propaganda video saying: “I was at a party. I was seriously injured in my hand. I underwent surgery on my hand at the hospital [in Gaza] for 3 hours. They are taking care of me, giving me medicine, everything is fine. I only ask that they bring me home.”
She was one of eight hostages released in two tranches on Thursday.
Schem, 21, who had been training to be a tattoo artist, was shown in a 78-second video broadcast on Hamas’s Telegram channel last month with an injured arm that was being treated by an unidentified medical worker. In the clip, she asked to be returned to her family as soon as possible.
Thousands of young people were partying in the dawn hours of 7 October when Palestinian militants opened fire. Hundreds were killed and 40 people were taken hostage, according to Israeli police.
Schem’s mother, Keren, who had campaigned for her release, was filmed by the Israeli channel N12 on Thursday sobbing on the phone and rushing to hug her other children after the news that she had been freed. Schem’s father, David, told the channel: “First, her mother is going to jump on her, and then I’ll come and hold her in my arms. I won’t say a word … I don’t want to ask questions. I don’t know what she’s been through.”
In a statement, the family thanked everyone who had worked for the release and asked for “calm and quiet” in the coming days while Schem receives medical treatment in hospital before she is able to go home.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, wrote on X: “I share this great joy with her family and all French people.”
Schem, who had completed her military service, lived in the town of Mazor, east of Tel Aviv. “She’s just a young woman who wanted to have fun, dance, and who ended up being shot at and kidnapped,” her mother had told the French news channel France Info.
On a website campaigning for her release, Schem was described as very creative. “Everything she touches turns to gold,” her mother said. The second of four children, Schem had gone to the music festival with friends including Elya Toledano, also French-Israeli, who is still missing, presumed held hostage.
Another hostage, Amit Soussana, 40, was released with Schem and handed to the Red Cross in Gaza City.